Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What Do we Do When the Lights are Out?


I’ve learned there are lots of things we don’t really need to survive. Well, I already knew that from countless camping trips my husband and I took with the kids when they were little and we were poor. One of those unnecessary-to-life things we think we can’t do without is electricity. So, whether you’re on a primitive camping trip aka no lights or running water, or at home and a storm takes out the lights, you will survive.

First of all flashlights (or candles) will get you to the bathroom (or bushes) without stubbing your toes. And you can read by flashlight, find the potato chips and check to make sure the kids didn’t sneak out in the middle of the night.

Second, cooking on the grill or over a wood fire is fun – for three days then it’s a pain in the tail because the kids get tired of gathering deadfall.

Third, a five-gallon bucket and a toilet plunger will make a pretty good washing machine, and then there is the solar powered dryer, aka the clothesline. The sun will dry your hair. Save the battery powered radio for the news and weather report. When the lights go out at home and you have to go to work in the morning don’t forget to wind up and set the old alarm clock.

There are plenty of things you can do for fun besides watch TV: board games, read, walk, play out doors, sew, arts and crafts, talk, tell stories, look at old pictures and photo albums, play with the cat or dog, and wash more clothes in the emergency washing machine. Email withdrawal isn’t a real disease. Write a letter or read a book.

Telling ghost stories is fun after dark, unless you have young or impressionable ones. Oh go ahead, they can sleep with you and you won’t get scared either when you hear those things going bump in the night. If its not raining and you are sitting around the campfire (don’t forget marshmallows are non-perishable and should have been in the emergency kit) the Big Foot stories are the best fun of all. I promise you’ll hear him lurking in the shadows; he likes to eavesdrop whenever you talk about him.

Oh, and there is making love. What a nice way to make good use of that time in the dark. Of course, if you are camping in a tent with three kids that might be a little tricky, but, not impossible.

Finally, make a list of what you’ve missed the most, and what you find you don’t miss all that much. That might help re-evaluate your priorities later on when the lights come back on.

Monday, December 26, 2011

With My Survivor Skills I Believe Maybe I Could Win

My mama taught me to fish by the time I could walk. She sat me down next to a hole in the pier where a storm had pounded out one of the cypress boards. I caught more crabs than fish – crabs are real easy to catch. You don’t even need a hook. Almost anything will work for bait – dough balls, worms, pieces of hotdog, or what I used – cut bait. One little fish made for plenty of crab bait, and once I started catching crabs I even used pieces of crabmeat to catch more crabs.

So, surviving on a tropical island was not all that hard. They gave us a map to find fresh water. Thanks to all those years riding shotgun with my husband on family vacations, I know how to read a map. I also know how to walk in the woods and I don’t scream over spider webs. Trail riding on my horse in the woods, I learned to carry a branch out in front of me to knock them down before I ran into them.

At my age, the biggest obstacles were the contests, the physical ones. The mental ones I am happy to say were easy. I got along with the other folks okay. I learned that from arguing with my daddy. I soon learned it wasn’t as important to win an argument, as it was to love him. So, I learned to bite my tongue, even when he edged me on, and keep the peace.

None of the ladies worried about an over-weight sixty-year-old woman taking any of the guys they were eyeing, so I was okay there, too. The guys pretty much ignored me except at suppertime. I wasn’t asked to join any alliances, not at first anyway. And I voted carefully, mainly not to let anyone know whom I’d voted to leave. I kept that kind of information to myself. So, I played it cool, got along with folks, and since I wasn’t very physical I made up for it by catching our food and hauling water out of the forest. No one else wanted to do that, so they didn’t vote me off.

We had seafood chowder every night. I found wild onions growing in the edge of the forest. Cooking in the salt seawater, the onions, crabmeat and fish with the rice we were rationed made a good stew that was in fact darn tasty.

Soon it was nearing the end of the series of shows and I was still there on the island. I’d lost fifty pounds, so it was worth the experience no matter if I won or not. I’d gotten to know some very interesting folks and had written enough character studies in the notebook I’d brought as my one personal item, to start a novel, or two. When it got down to two people and I was one of them I was more than a little surprised. I had not even won an immunity challenge but I’d survived. Win or lose I was going home with some money. I would not have to worry about the rent money for a while. Maybe I’d just tell the world how dumb I thought the other 15 players were who couldn’t catch dinner or find water if their lives depended on it. Or how silly they were to be constantly bickering like children in the world’s biggest sandbox. Maybe I’d tell them I’d found the immunity idol and they could vote anyway they wanted to cause I was going home with a million dollars. No, better than that I was going to split it 16 ways and we could all go home with $62,000. That was more money than I’d ever had and I’d not have to worry about rent for seven years, and if I am still alive then I will have written enough books to get me by.

Waking up from this dream I ponder its meaning. I survived.